Block outs for feeling

Article / 03 December 2018

It’s been 12 weeks since we started this semester, 8 weeks (approximately) of development towards our Alpha for Spirits. We got a block out early on, grey blocks that marked the space that would become our deserted mall.

An early grey box of Spirits

As an environment artist this was fun to make, but it din’t satisfy the needs of our team to visualize our retro look. There was speculation that we could make this into an ancient temple.

It wasn’t until I watched Emilia Schatz’s 80 Level article on Uncharted’s block-mesh process (https://80.lv/articles/defining-environment-language-for-video-games/) that I considered adding more character to our own blockouts.

I went all out, with Unity 2018’s new graphics and tools it took only a few hours to turn that blockout into a space that truly feels like a deserted mall.

Above you can see the result of my endevours. If it weren’t for the amazing tools I had to work with then this very well could have been a waste of valuable design time. Instead, using the HDRP Triplanr Shaders, Pro Builders modeling tools, and the amazing realtime lighting each piece of that blockout essentially manages it’s self.

Using the Substance in Unity plugin I was able to find materials directly on Substance Source, modify the .sbs in Substance Designer, and connect them directly to HDRP Lit materials. By enabling triplanar projection I skipped any UVing time and got instantly tiled, high detail textures.

On Substance Source I looked for four distinct materials to create the feel of our game, while still maintaining the readability of the environment : floor, ceiling, walls, and decorative materials.

Testing shaders and textures to block out the ‘visual feel’

We took this approach to blocking out the ‘mood’ or feel a step farther by developing simple, but distinct, shaders based on the work of Ciro Continisio. With the feel really coming together we just had to enable volumetric fog, and we had a level that not only represented our metrics, but also FELT right.

Our lattest video, showing our block out progress.